Wow! Have you ever noticed the descriptive words and phrases that Paul uses in Ephesians 4? They are the exact opposite of the things we usually see, even among Christians.
He starts out by urging us to “live a life worthy of the calling … received.” Our worthybehavior doesn’t get us
into heaven. That’s already been done with Christ’s death as our redemption payment. But living a worthy life is the result of the indwelling of the Spirit. Committing to live in that manner is our thank-you to the Lord for all He’s done for us. Then he describes what our worthy life will look like.
He instructs us to “Be completelyhumble and gentle.” That first word–completely–exhorts total and whole-hearted commitment to the task. And total commitment is what is expected. After all, we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Lord first. That means we put Him in charge. Our own wishes take second place–a lesson that I learned the hard way today, just after I did my Bible Study.
I have to be honest! I’ve been waiting in happy anticipation for the beginning of NASCAR season for their biggest race. Rained out on Sunday, I thought I’d have all afternoon on Monday to enjoy it. But it was delayed again, set to air during a dinner that I had to go to. A business thing. I already resented being forced to attend, but I REALLY resented having to miss something important to me. And God brought my study from this morning back to my mind. My own wishes need to take second place.
I need to be humble. Truly putting the needs of others in front of my own means I have to embrace missing the Super Bowl of my favorite sport. For those of you who aren’t race fans, compare it to missing the second-half of a two-parter of your favorite show that you’ve been waiting to see all summer. Agonizing. And yet, personal agendas and opinions have no part in humility. So I determined to go to that dinner and try very hard to wipe the thoughts of what I was missing as far away as I possibly could.
Which leads to Paul’s second descriptive word. We’re to be completely humble andgentle. Our words need to be delivered with compassion and love, but our actions must also have an air of sincerity. As I dealt with the folks at dinner, I had to be totally there. Not an easy thing for an naturally ADD sufferer. It takes a lot for me to concentrate solely on anything anytime, but with my mind distracted by racing, I couldn’t imagine being able to be sincerely and completely gentle.
Or patient. I’d already figured out what time I’d need to leave in order to see the second half. (No, I don’t have a DVR – bummer!) But, the more I thought about missing the race, the more impossible being friendly and engaging seemed. I seriously doubted my success, yet I still had to go.
The good news is, that even though if left up to me, the evening would’ve been doomed, it wasn’t left up to me. The Spirit of the Lord lives in me and because of that His fruits are evident in my life. And those fruits include patience and gentleness. Good thing! So my challenge wasn’t to be humble or gentle or patient. My challenge was to empty myself of my own desires in order to let the Spirit work through me. He provided the sincerity and compassion that I needed. And I ended up having a lot more fun than I thought I would.
I even met another race fan! Oh and I didn’t miss the best part of the race! Caught the last 40 laps, a fire, an explosion, 3 wrecks (you’da thought it was a disaster movie!) and a win at 12:15 central.
When was the last time an irritation served as a major challenge for you?